Harvard University & The California Institute Of Technology To Reintroduce SAT And ACT Requirements For Admissions

Harvard University & The California Institute Of Technology To Reintroduce SAT And ACT Requirements For Admissions

Harvard University revealed that the new policy will be effective for students seeking admission in the fall of 2025, reversing an earlier decision to make testing optional for several more years

Siksha MUpdated: Friday, April 12, 2024, 09:29 PM IST
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In a significant move, Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology have announced their decision to reinstate the SAT or ACT as requirements for admission. This decision comes in the wake of a growing trend among prestigious American institutions to return to standardised tests after a hiatus prompted by the pandemic.

Border reconsideration of the standardised test

According to the Economic Times report, Harvard University revealed that the new policy will be effective for students seeking admission in the fall of 2025, reversing an earlier decision to make testing optional for several more years. Similarly, Caltech stated that it would require applicants to submit scores when they apply this fall, a year before its moratorium on testing had been set to expire.

The decision by these universities reflects a broader reconsideration of standardised tests in the admissions process, especially following the Supreme Court ruling last June prohibiting schools from considering race in admissions. Recent announcements from Dartmouth, Yale, and Brown indicate a similar shift back to testing, with the argument that it provides admissions officers with greater context about the potential success of less-privileged applicants at these institutions.

In a statement, Hopi Hoekstra, dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, emphasised the importance of identifying promising students from diverse backgrounds: "Fundamentally, we know that talent is universal, but opportunity is not. With this change, we hope to strengthen our ability to identify these promising students, and to give Harvard the opportunity to support their development as thinkers and leaders who will contribute to shaping our world."

Addressing concerns and ensuring fairness

Opponents of standardised testing have long contended that such requirements favour wealthier students who can afford tutoring and preparation courses, as reported by the Economic Times. However, prestigious colleges initially moved away from testing when it became impractical during the pandemic. Now, there is a growing concern among elite institutions that not using tests makes it harder to identify talented students from underprivileged backgrounds.

A report last year from Harvard professors, including economist Raj Chetty, highlighted the importance of standardised tests in identifying students from under-resourced schools. It found that SATs and ACTs were "highly predictive" of post-college outcomes.

Harvard's decision to reintroduce testing requirements comes at a time when the university is facing changes in its recruitment landscape. Despite receiving 54,008 applications for next fall's freshman class, it marks the second consecutive year of decline. This trend contrasts with a spike in applications to 61,220 two years ago, which was partly attributed to the suspension of testing requirements.

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